CrossFit Performance of the Week: Emma Cary Wins Open Workout 23.1 to Begin Comeback Season

The 19-year-old set the tone as she looks to make an impact in 2023.

This week’s CrossFit Performance of the Week comes courtesy of teenage sensation Emma Cary, whose record-setting win in the 23.1 workout helped kick off the 2023 NOBULL CrossFit Games Open.

On the heels of her third-place finish at the 2023 TYR Wodapalooza in January, the 19-year-old is on course for a championship-caliber comeback this year.

[Related: 6 Up-and-Coming CrossFit Athletes to Watch in 2023]

Emma Cary Takes on Open Workout 23.1

Just under a year ago, Cary withdrew from the 2022 CrossFit season during the Quarterfinals due to a back injury. Cary and her coach, Matt Torres, then shifted their attention to the 2023 season — and the first workout of the Open was one she excels in.

The workout was a 14-minute AMRAP, each round comprising a 60-calorie row, 50 toes-to-bars, 40 wall balls, 30 power cleans, and 20 ring muscle-ups. Cary finished the first round in 7:41, setting the tie-breaker time to beat in the women’s field. 

She completed her 20 muscle-ups and the 60-calorie row in the second round before getting 18 toes-to-bars as time ran out. Her original score of 278 reps bested Mallory O’Brien by 10 — but after video review, Cary was penalized nine reps for not reaching proper depth on her wall balls.

That brought Cary’s score down to 269, which was still one rep better than O’Brien’s, giving her the event win.

Her adjusted total still set a new world record score for the repeat workout, initially debuting as 14.4 during the 2014 Open. Samantha Briggs won that year with 256 reps. This was also Cary’s second career workout victory, and her performance earned her $2,023.

Who is Emma Cary?

Cary’s CrossFit career showed much promise after she made her first ever Games appearance in 2019, where she won the 14-15-year-old teen division. She eyed the 16-17-year-old title in 2020 but never got the chance to compete due to the global COVID-19 pandemic canceling her season.

During the 2021 season, her original plan was to compete again in the 16-17-year-old division, but she showed she was ready to compete with the elite women’s division. She placed second in the Open behind then-five-time Games champion Tia-Clair Toomey. That finish propelled her to the North America Quarterfinals, placing fourth overall.

[Related: Who Can Win the 2023 CrossFit Games With Tia-Clair Toomey Out?]

After the Quarterfinals, she placed third in the Semifinals and punched her ticket to Madison, WI, for the elite Individual women’s division at the Games.

She placed 16th at the 2021 Games and showed much promise in her rookie debut. Unfortunately, a back injury she suffered at the 2021 Dubai CrossFit Championship in December hampered her during the 2022 Open and eventually led to the premature end of her season in the Quarterfinals.

Know a Great CrossFit Athlete?

If you’d like to submit an athlete to be considered for BarBend’s CrossFit Athlete of the Week, please email Patrick Clark at [email protected].

For athletes to be considered, it must be for accomplishments for the preceding week (Monday-Sunday) and must be received no later than 5:00 p.m. EST the Monday after. Please include any verifiable results, links, and a brief explanation of why that athlete should be considered.

Featured Image: @emmacaryy on Instagram | Photo: @b.a.w_Media (Bruce Williams)